June 4, 2014We took it easy this morning as we waited for the traffic restrictions to expire on bridges we will encounter on the way to Portsmouth. We caught the 9AM lock through at the Great Bridge Lock. It was a short run from there to the Steel Bridge where we had to wait for the opening.
The wait at the Steel Bridge was nothing compared to what we experienced next. We arrived at the Gilmerton Bridge with 2 other sailboats only to find the #7 Norfolk & Southern railway bridge in a half closed position and maintenance personnel working on it. The Gilmerton Bridge operator suggested we contact N&S to find out when they would open for river traffic. Attempts to contact N&S via VHF were unsuccessful. After waiting almost a half hour, the Gilmerton operator called on the radio and said the N&S would be opening shortly. It took another twenty minutes before they raised the bridge to fully open. The Gilmerton operator opened immediately and we proceeded onward.
As we were approaching the Belt Line railroad bridge, we heard an announcement that it would be closing in approximately 15 minutes. I pushed the throttle to the limit in hopes we could beat the closing. We were almost to the bridge when I saw the large pulleys at the top of the towers start to rotate. We could not make it safely, so we did a quick 180 and idled back to sit and wait again.
The bridge lowered and the train appeared on the far shore. Instead of continuing on, the train stopped, someone got out and proceeded to walk across the bridge with the train slowly following. It seemed to take forever for the train to clear the bridge. A slow lift of the bridge followed and we were allowed to proceed, but only a short distance.
The next obstacle was an inbound cargo ship which we cleared by staying way right which really upset the Navy security boat at the ship yard. Clearing the ship yard, we then encountered a Navy Riverine group of 3 boats practicing for a demonstration at the upcoming Harborfest. Boy did those boats ever have the river churned up. Again we stayed way right and got by them.
The remaining quarter mile to our marina was uneventful except for a quick stop to chat with John and do a pumpout at the Portsmouth Boating Center.
No wind and no current made docking easy as we entered our slip. Lines were made fast, shore power connected and it was beer all around. We are home!